EDITORIAL: Olympics are worth celebrating

Despite criticisms, the Olympic Games – and the athletes taking part – still serve to unite, inspire.

In recent years, the Olympic Games – and the organization in charge, the International Olympic Committee – have rightly taken some knocks.

The IOC has come under fire much in the same way that soccer organization FIFA has, with allegations of all manner of corruption afoot, from host cities spending big bucks to convince IOC voters to choose them, to funds for venue construction mysteriously disappearing, as was reportedly the case at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

On that note, costs to host an Olympic Games have skyrocketed into the billions, which leaves the majority of right-thinking cities – potential host sites, all of them – to bow out on their own, lest their bids bankrupt its own residents.

This leaves only bidders who are, in many ways, unsuitable to host such an event.

Which brings us to this summer’s event in Rio, where organizers are so far behind they’ve given up much on the to-do list already – including the much-publicized cleaning up of the outdoor water venues, which have reportedly made people sick.

With all these issues, many have suggested the Olympic Games are simply no longer worth it, but try telling that to the hundreds of athletes who’ve waited four years – or in some cases, a lifetime – to perform on this, the biggest of stages.

In the past week alone, Surrey and White Rock athletes have punched their ticket to Rio – runner Luc Bruchet, field-hockey player Sukhi Panesar and Paralympic volleyball players Tessa Popoff and Danielle Ellis join a group of soon-to-be Olympians that also includes South Surrey’s Richard Weinberger and White Rock’s Hilary Caldwell.

Try telling Weinberger – who, as an open-water swimmer, will be one of those most affected by the city’s water issues – that the event he’s trained so hard for shouldn’t be held; or try to wipe the smile of Bruchet’s face last Thursday night when he qualified in the 5,000-metre race.

When the Games start on Aug. 5, many of the problems – with Rio specifically and the Olympic committee as a whole – will simply be pushed to the background, for better or worse, as we watch these athletes soar to great heights.

In spite of everything, we still love to watch the athletes, in their country’s colours, strive to be the best in the world. It is still among the most prestigious sports titles any athlete can earn.

It has inspired millions to cheer, to cry to hold our breath. It’s about pride and inspiration – and that’s worth saving.

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